Thursday July 28, 2005

Teele the End of Time

[Contributed by Steve Klotz]

This is one work of art Miami is better off losing.

This entire affair was handled very poorly, and Teele should hang his (bullet-ventilated) head. Couldn’t he have hired a better producer? He drives to the newspaper, whines for a while in front of some low-level employees, then pops his own cap. B.F.D. You’d find a better sense of mission in a teenage suicide bomber. If you’re determined to off yourself, take somebody worthwhile with you—a fellow commissioner, a particularly obnoxious member of the media, even an annoying clergyman. In this town, the selections are endless. Show some ambition. Hell, wielding an automatic weapon, even a crazed postal worker—a unionized Federal employee, no less— displays more energy.

And why hand the fishwrap Herald an exclusive like this? Naturally, they blew it: where were the blood and guts photos; grey matter coagulating on the scuffed linoleum floor? Why no tapes of sobbing conversation, no sound of bullet entering brain on the website ready for download? And look how they handled DeFede, the real loser in this sordid Lilliputian tragedy—he gets canned by a dickless little fraud whose claim to fame is staking out Gary Hart’s townhouse, irreversibly ratcheting down American journalism yet another notch. “We have to maintain the highest standard of integrity,” sniffs the corporate mouthpiece. So that’s what they’re doing with those strip-club ads, Cal Thomas columns, and unedited reprints of self-promotional government press releases.

It was amateur hour staging, but Teele did us all a favor and saved us buckets of cash. Confronting various local and federal agencies, each elbowing the other to get to the front of the indictment express lane, taxpayers’ legal bills would have staggered a Saudi bank. No adjudication costs less than a bullet in the skull, particularly when the perp’s buying.

So, concluding this art review, while we have to turn thumbs down on presentation, we applaud the artist for his public spirit. The end justifies the means, and in fact he went out with a bang. We wish him every success in future endeavors.

[See all Articles by Steve]

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  1. Hugh Briss    Fri Jul 29, 10:04 AM #  

    I get it: Good thought, poor “execution.”
    Well, at least let’s hope he set a good example,
    and (many) others of his ilk will follow.

  2. alesh    Fri Jul 29, 11:01 AM #  

    Here is the web site for the petition for Jim DeFede’s reinstatement, which, incidentally, includes a great conversation in the comments section. Not that I feel so sorry for the Jim.

    Next time you’re having second thoughts about illegally taping somebody, Jim, take the tape and throw it in the trash, and save everybody the trouble.

    By the way, if journalists make “illegal” tapes of their phone conversations to refer to while writing their stories and then destroy the tapes, isn’t everyone better off?

    I mean, here I am spouting off in what appears to be a very transient forum, but this very message will probably be archived in several places in perpetuity (witness, for example, the Wayback Machine which archives most of the internet at various points). Why, ultimately, should not the same apply to phone conversations? Would it be a big deal if I never knew whether the person on the other end of the line was recording the conversation? Ultimately, I think not. It’s an electronic medium, after all.

  3. Franklin    Fri Jul 29, 12:14 PM #  

    There are three points to consider regarding DeFede: whether his actions were illegal, unethical, and constitute a firing offense. The worst case scenario on the first is that he’s guilty of misdemeanor illegal phone recording. The worst-case scenario on the second is that his journalistic instincts got the better of him as someone who he considered a friend sounded suicidal on the phone, and made a mistake that he admitted to his bosses before the suicide. Somebody weighed those two considerations against his value to the Herald and decided to fire him, causing median IQ at the paper to drop fifteen points.

  4. Zilch    Fri Jul 29, 12:43 PM #  

    Fifteen points? Let’s see….we started at room temperature, so even in south Florida that’s Special Olympics material.

  5. Miami Harold    Fri Jul 29, 12:54 PM #  

    ‘’What Jim did was not in keeping with the ethics of our profession. Added to that, it was probably illegal…...We have to hold ourselves to a higher standard.”—Publisher Jesús Díaz. Jr

    Thanks, Junior, for clearing that up. Somebody open a window.
    Herald management is a piece of shit. (Now, there’s news.)
    To what end do they use this amazing story,
    this tragic drama that unfolded and wrapped up
    literally on their own doorstep?
    As a golden opportunity
    to sanctimoniously proclaim their own moral purity.
    They fire a top-notch journalist “to maintain their integrity.”
    This is obscene, infuriating,
    a demonstration of how distant they are
    from the man on the street
    whom they allegedly address in their publication.
    They haven’t a fucking clue.

  6. alesh    Fri Jul 29, 01:58 PM #  

    There’s ordinary breaking the law, and there is breaking the law in a way that directly stems from your job: police beating people up, pyromaniac firemen, drunken pilots, and source-abusing reporters all fall into a particular sort of law breakers who are abusing their job and breaking the law.

  7. Miami Harold    Fri Jul 29, 04:41 PM #  

    Sure, but does the punishment fit the crime?
    Perhaps a law was broken; maybe a policy was violated,
    but who was actually harmed?
    And whose credibility and/or integrity is damaged?
    Why couldn’t the obsequious corporate Kinght-Ridder eunochs settle for a reprimand, a fine, a suspension,
    and demand an apology instead?
    It’s knee-jerk and overkill, and readers suffer the most.
    The whole thing stinks like a meat fart.

  8. Biscayne Bystander    Fri Jul 29, 06:29 PM #  

    Steve, you’re post is utterly ridiculous.

    1st – this is a human being. A man w/ a family—a wife and child. If your stupid rant attempted to make you sound like you are better than Art Teele, you missed the life lesson on tactful decorum.

    2nd – The real story is what drove Teele to do it. As much as this site likes to rip on them, the free weekly NEW TIMES broke the story BEFORE the paper hit the stands. It’s already been confirmed that Teele only shot himself AFTER reading Francisco Alvarado’s article—which by the way was barely writing. His approach to use actual police reports and surveillance notes, not only verified his story, but cast no doubt onto any bias the paper or the writer had on the subject.

    Ultimately, Arthur Teele took his own life as a result of multiple bad decisions he made. As a public figure, it was correct to have the depth of his corruption exposed to the public.

    Some talk about blogs being the new form of journalism that can keep up to date with the fast changing world. Well, while I was listening to the breaking reports on the news, I was reading the article on and there was not a single mention, blurb, or callous remark on And when I tried to post a comment – that feature was down.

    So instead of taking the opportunity of informing people faster than the local news with their time slots, the hearld who was trying to cover their own asses, and the New Times – which is only published once a week; a schmuck like you comments on something you know little to nothing about WELL after the fact. And up STILL manage not to include a single mention of Jim DeFede being fired for admitting to recording his frantic final moments with Teele.

    You’re blog smells like meat fart

  9. Miami Harold    Sat Jul 30, 03:00 PM #  

    Normally I’d leave this alone,
    but Biscayne Baby—you more or less invite me in
    by deploying my “meat fart” remark
    (inspired, BTW, by a rancid lunch: I paid dues for this!)

    I doubt Teele took gas because of anything he read
    other than subpoenas, indictments, and other legal papers
    which featured his own name prominently.
    The man was ruined, and he knew it.
    And contrary to what you say here,
    it is NOT confirmed that he even saw the NT article.
    As much is reported as late as today, on p 2 of the Miami Hurled.

    I agree with you that Teele made some real bad decisions,
    but hell: he was your garden variety urban politician;
    power-hungry, corrupt, arrogant, greedy, etc.,
    a species known for groveling in this kind of shit.
    The only surprise was his own sloppy suicide,
    maybe one of the nobler things he ever did.

    As for DeFede, you’re wrong: he is mentioned in the post
    (maybe you never got as far as paragraph 3),
    but you’ll find a far more detailed and intelligent review
    of the issues surrounding his dismissal,
    many provided by journalists, here.

    One last thing: it’s “your,” not “you’re.”
    That consistent gaffe coupled with your lickspittle defense
    of the Miami Hurled lead me to believe
    you’re (not your) representing its upper management.

  10. Defeded    Mon Aug 1, 09:53 PM #  

    Can we rally around NYT’s Judith Miller for her efforts to protect a source at all times, while at the same time, we rally around a man who taped a source, a person in great duress, a person that specifically asked not to be?

    Allowing sources to pour out their revelations only to a watchdog reporter’s ear, without the chance that a revealing tape or notebook will ever be found… isn’t that their greatest protection?

  11. Miami Harold    Tue Aug 2, 09:01 AM #  

    Did Teele specifically ask not to be taped?
    How would we know that unless Defede told us
    (and we believe him)
    or somebody overheard him,
    or (ironically) it was caught on tape?
    But you make a good point.
    Defede was wrong to tape him.
    There’s little debate about that.
    The question remains, Does that action warrant his dismissal?
    Does dismissing Defede replenish the Miami Hurled’s integrity,
    as Hurled management claims?
    Is this action morally appropriate; the right thing to do
    even though its consequences
    create more unhappiness than happiness?
    Yes and how many roads must a man walk down
    before we call him a man?

  12. Defeded    Tue Aug 2, 05:50 PM #  

    Is appropriate to judge the morality of an action on the basis of the happiness or unhappiness it creates? And with the endless ramifications of any action, and the actions it spurs, can we ever even really measure either?

    Not to get all PHI 101 on you though. Had Defede stayed on and gone through the apologies, etc – well, I’d say a lot worse goes on at the Herald besides that (Miami Bombshells anyone??)

    And I’d call Defede a man. A very large one, at that.

  13. Miami Harold    Wed Aug 3, 09:29 AM #  

    Do I detect a deontologist in our midst,
    centuries later still tilting against the windmills of Utilitarianism?
    No, the consequences of an action—
    the happiness of unhappiness it generates—
    are NOT sufficient conditions by which the morality of an action
    should be determined.
    Thus spake Kant, anyway,
    and I’ll bet it sounded better in the original German.
    Like a Patrick Buchanan speech on culture.

    So here’s what’s next.
    Now that the Miami Hurled has loudly and proudly
    “protected its integrity” and
    “maintained its uncompromising ethical position”
    by canning its popular if errant journalist,
    it hires him back.
    He answers their classified ad
    (“Wanted: Metro Columnist. Obedience preferable”)
    and they decide he’s the best candidate,
    (“it’s an affirmative action hire:
    he’s avoirdupoisdically challenged” ).
    Press conference with hugs and kisses
    and promises of good behavior…..
    and the self-promotional Miami Hurled
    makes itself the news again.
    Win Win for Everyone, as the Redundants say.